CAMP ZAMA, Japan – A “Trunk-or-Treat” and Haunted Hangar event held Oct. 28 combined the two activities to offer an evening of Halloween festivities for both the on-base community and Japanese guests from neighboring cities.
U.S. Army Aviation Battalion Japan and U.S. Army Garrison Japan co-hosted the dual events at Kastner Airfield, transforming an aircraft hangar into a haunted house and lining the tarmac outside with parked cars done up with Halloween decorations while their owners passed out candy.
USAABJ hosts the event, which has become an annual occurrence, as a way to let both the American and Japanese communities on and around Camp Zama “experience what Halloween is all about,” said Tara Rojas, a flight operations records assistant assigned to the unit.
It is also an opportunity for bilateral exchange that helps build friendship and camaraderie between the U.S. Army in Japan and its host nation while allowing the local Japanese community to experience American traditions. In those respects, the event was a success, Rojas said.
“For Americans overseas, we want to have relationships, build friendships and have communication with the local nationals,” Rojas said. There was a little bit of a language barrier, but it helps that ‘trick-or- treating’ is kind of a common language between the two of us.”
Attending the event for the first time was Sagamihara City Vice Mayor Asana Ohkawa, who said she was impressed with the attendees’ detailed costumes and the creativity of those who decorated their cars for the trunk-or-treating.
Ohkawa said she enjoyed seeing the children’s reactions when they were receiving candy and going through the haunted house, and she could tell they were having fun and enjoying themselves.
Official bilateral functions at the city level are of course important for strengthening the U.S.-Japan relationship, she said, but fun events such as the Trunk-or-Treat and Haunted Hangar also play a significant role in both sides gaining a better understanding of each other.
“I think this event is a valuable opportunity for the children invited from Sagamihara to experience American culture while interacting directly with the Americans who live on Camp Zama,” Ohkawa said.
Zama Mayor Mito Sato, who came to last year’s event, said it only seems to be growing in scale and popularity, noting the increase in attendance and the ramping up of the scare factor of this year’s haunted hangar.
“Cultural exchange events are very popular among Zama citizens, so I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be part of this,” she said. “I hope more become aware of the effort we put toward building a relationship between Zama City and Camp Zama, and I would like to further deepen those exchanges between us as neighbors.”